Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
About Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
The Trinity College Choir at England's Cambridge University is among the oldest musical organizations in existence. Yet the choir's sound, thanks to the inclusion of women, is more contemporary than that of many of its peer organizations, and the group has built a substantial international profile.
The Trinity College Choir, Cambridge has used several combinations of those words to name itself (Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, Trinity College Choir), including at least two different variants on its own website. The choir is older than Trinity College itself, dating back to the establishment of King's Hall by King Edward in 1317. Records show that the hall employed boy choristers who were allowed to continue their studies after their voices broke. Henry VIII formed Trinity College in 1546, merging King's Hall with the small Michaelhouse College, and Mary Tudor gave the choir its current form in 1553 with choristers, lay-clerks, an organist, and a schoolmaster. The choir now has 30 members. Among the choir's distinguished alumni were Ralph Vaughan Williams and Charles Villiers Stanford as well was various composers from the Tudor era. However, the group was not generally regarded as being in the top tier of English choral organizations. Its choir school was dissolved in the 1890s in favor of the employment of local boys as choristers. In the 1950s, director Raymond Leppard re-formed the choir as an all-male, all-student organization, with no boy singers at all.
The choir's profile grew stronger after it began to admit women in 1982 under new director Richard Marlow, shortly after Trinity College itself became coeducational. Marlow instituted a vigorous program of recordings, many on the Conifer label. The recording program has continued under director Stephen Layton, who succeeded Marlow in 2006. Layton also holds the title of director of music of Trinity College. In 2019, Layton led the choir on a recording of choral music by Gerald Finzi released on the Hyperion label, home to many of the choir's recordings in the 2010s; the group had teamed the previous year with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a recording of Bach's Mass in B minor, BWV 232.
Chosen as the world's fifth-best choir in a Gramophone poll, the Trinity College Choir continues to sing at three regular college chapel services each week. The choir has toured not only Europe, North America, and the Far East but also more unusual locales including southern Africa, India, and Peru. ~ James Manheim